Prime Ministers’ support produces UK & Canada marine energy project
The UK’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), based in Orkney, and Canada’s Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) have kicked off a joint project looking at the difference in corrosion and underwater behaviour of marine coatings either side of the Atlantic.
Working with Whitford, a global leading high-performance coatings manufacturer, the two marine energy test facilities will look at how innovative marine coatings perform at both test centres.
The initiative can be traced back to a declaration made in 2011 by the then Prime Ministers of the UK and Canada, David Cameron and Stephen Harper, on increasing growth, trade and innovation. The resulting joint declaration committed Canada and the UK to working together to drive forward marine energy innovation.
That in turn led to Innovate UK and the Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia (OERA) setting up a trans-Atlantic project, partnering EMEC and FORCE to work on the InSTREAM project testing sensor technology.
EMEC and FORCE’s collaboration dates back to 2011 when they committed to a strategic agreement to make their research efforts smarter, faster, and more coordinated. Since then, they have been openly sharing their experiences, building a close working relationship.
For example, it was during a recent visit to Nova Scotia, when it became clear to EMEC's Managing Director, Neil Kermode, that he might have an application relevant to the FORCE project:
“Corrosion and other associated issues are a big challenge for wave and tidal energy technologies given that devices could be deployed at sea for years at a time. During discussions we realised that the marine conditions experienced at FORCE’s test site in Nova Scotia are very different from what we are seeing across the pond at EMEC, in Orkney. So the inclusion of a technology testing program with us will provide a different experience if they then decide to deploy in Canada, or vice versa.
“The conditions experienced by FORCE's sensor lander got me thinking about the Whitford coatings we have been testing in Orkney. A quick call to Whitford confirmed that they were keen to see how applicable their products are in the Canadian waters and we already knew the FORCE team welcome collaborative research.”
Tony Wright of FORCE said: "Working in the Bay of Fundy, our sensor platforms have to operate in extreme high-flow conditions. Our site experiences 14 billion tonnes of water every tide, moving at speeds above 20 kilometres an hour. Working in the world's highest tides is a challenge, but also an opportunity for technologies to meet the ultimate test of durability: the 'Fundy Standard.'
EMEC and FORCE are both working to advance the marine renewable energy sector responsibly and economically, and opportunities like this - to share research, knowledge, and technology - is critical to that work."
Jointly studying issues like marine growth, corrosion, and other outstanding environmental and technological questions will ensure developers have the right approach wherever they end up deploying their technologies.”
Whitford and EMEC have been working together since 2014, conducting tests on the performance of coatings in the dynamic and volatile environments found at EMEC’s test sites in Orkney. Gareth
Berry of Whitford is complimentary of how the two centres brought him the opportunity. “Working with EMEC has been great. We have proven so much about our product and that is leading to sales. The Canadian market is really big due to the scale of the marine energy resource and we are keen to get our product tested and proven there too. When we heard about FORCE and EMEC's ideas we jumped at the chance,” Whitford said.
Rob Saunders of Innovate UK stated that he was delighted to see EMEC and FORCE working together on this new project:
“We helped make the InSTREAM project happen after the Prime Ministers’ declaration. Hearing that other projects have spun out of that announcement independent of Government is really rewarding,” he said.
Mr Kermode adds that this is just the beginning, and there will be opportunities to expand this research project further to get a full understanding how new materials behave at different sites across the globe.
“So much learning has taken place at EMEC and FORCE already, however synergies can be created by learning together: parallel processing of innovation is the key to getting the cost curve down quickly. The more we can do in parallel, the greater the rate of learning.
“The corrosion and other behaviour experienced in the northern hemisphere will be different from that in the south, and it’ll be different in the tropics compared to temperate areas. The potential for marine energy however is global, and technology developers will need to be prepared for this.”
“Knowing there is the support at the highest levels to drive forward innovation is really important. We are sure that the results will benefit both Canada and the UK in their plans to harvest sustainable energy from the oceans.”
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.